, Salem, MA


May 26, 2014

Letter: Alternatives for Bentley School weren’t considered


If Mayor Driscoll was truly looking for a way to improve student achievement, she would have explored all avenues and encouraged input from many sources. In fact, if she had wanted to be a part of the solution, she would have looked at Murkland School in Lowell. Murkland jumped from a Level 4 to a Level 1 in four years. This was not due to a takeover, but due to the collaboration of the superintendent, School Committee and the union. Their teamwork and their unwillingness to demonize the teachers turned a failing school into a model one.

Had the mayor invited more than one presenter, Jeff Riley, state-appointed receiver of Lawrence Public Schools, there would have been an awareness of other available alternatives. Perhaps, Mayor Driscoll should have invited members of the Lowell contingency who have already proved how to effectively turn around a failing school without costing teachers their careers.

I have spent 32 years teaching elementary school in Peabody. I am an activist in my union and a supporter of the movement “Reclaim Our Schools.” I am a Peabody resident and proud to say that our city’s namesake, George Peabody, had a full understanding of the value and importance of public education. Mr. Peabody proclaimed, “Education is a debt owed from one generation to another.”

Educating our children is not an issue that can be solved by privatizing public schools, which is basically what Mayor Driscoll and her supporters on the School Committee have done to Bentley. Kudos to Mr. Walsh and Mr. Fleming for their support of public education, its teachers, the unions and for representing the citizens who elected them.

Patricia Nizwantowski


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